Orlando City may finally have an answer for its leaky defense all season.
The club announced the loan signing of centerback Carlos Ascues, reportedly after his exit clause was triggered while playing for Peruvian giants Alianza Lima. Born in Venezuela to Peruvian parents, Ascues has made 21 appearances for the full Peruvian National Team, including playing every minute of action during the team’s 2015 run to the Copa America semifinals. Ascues joins fellow Peruvian Yoshi Yotun on Orlando City’s squad.
Ascues’ performances at the Copa America earned him a contract in the Bundesliga with VfL Wolfsburg, but he failed to make the grade and ended up returning to his former club Melgar. Only in the last eight months has he found his form again for Lima, but his decision to return home drew the ire from Peru National Team manager Ricardo “El Tigre” Gareca.
Ascues comes to Orlando in a desperate time for the club. The club has continued its poor defensive displays even under new coach James O’Connor, who now holds a record of 1-5-1, with 20 goals allowed in that span. Lamine Sane, signed from Werder Bremen in February, hasn’t played under O’Connor and it appears the club were looking for an international-level player. Despite the end of the transfer window in early August, it appears that Orlando City was able to push this deal through with the help of FIFA.
“Carlos brings valuable experience from Europe and South America. He fits the profile we’re looking for in a defender, and we also value his versatility to be able to play in the midfield,” Lions general manager Niki Budalic said. “We welcome him to Orlando and look forward to his contributions.”
Should Ascues prove a good signing, Orlando City has the option to keep him on loan for the 2019 season. It won’t be easy for Ascues to quickly adjust to MLS, considering it’s a new language and culture, but he has 10 games left to make a difference and possibly even get Orlando City into the playoffs.